Happy Thanksgiving Baylor family! Needless to say, we have plenty to be thankful for this year. And with college football games all over the place this week and weekend, this column has been moved up to Thursday so that you can fit a nice heaping side of Big 12 football previews on your Thanksgiving plate.
Texas Tech @ Texas
Friday, November 29th 11:00 AM CT, FOX
What a depressing game. Texas (6-5, 4-4) just got slowly torn apart over four quarters by Baylor last weekend. Texas Tech (4-7, 2-6) lost a three point game to Kansas State to squander their chance at bowl eligibility. So really this game has very little implications either way, other than MAYBE Herman coaching for his job (I think that talk is premature but going 6-7 with a bowl loss could put it on the table). The line is 10 points in favor of Texas but that feels excessive. In fact, both teams have gone 1-2 over their last three games and Tech has looked more impressive in that not so impressive streak. So I’ll take the Red Raiders in what I suppose is an upset?
27-21 Texas Tech
West Virginia @ TCU
Friday, November 29th 3:15 PM CT, ESPN
Now this game has some more interesting implications than the game above. West Virginia (4-7, 2-6) is out of bowl contention BUT TCU (5-6, 3-5) is sitting right on the edge of bowl eligibility. They have to win this one on senior day to have a chance at that Cheez-It Bowl re-invitation. And I think the Horned Frogs are able to do just that with their stifling defense. They were a blown call and a hypothetical game winning drive away from beating OU last week. WVU is not by any stretch of the imagination as good as the Sooners. I’m sure we all remember just how little the Mountaineers were able to do against Baylor’s defense. Granted, TCU’s defense is maybe a half step weaker than Baylor’s (what a world we live in, huh?) But that should be more than enough to shut down any Mountaineers production.
#9 Baylor @ Kansas
Saturday, November 30th 2:30 PM CT, ESPN
I’ve been saying this since they released this schedule last year, even before #9 Baylor (10-1, 7-1) become nationally relevant: this is the trap game to end all trap games. Kansas (3-8, 1-7) has absolutely nothing to play for other than pride and their seniors on senior day. Baylor has a lot at stake, including a still-in-play shot at the College Football Playoff (which, with the new CFP rankings, became an even greater possibility). Even without that, winning here means that Baylor could still get a New Years 6 Bowl with a Big 12 Championship loss. I don’t think that’s the case if Baylor drops this game. And wow can I see how they might. Kansas may not have the raw talent Baylor does, but they have really been fighting hard under coach Les Miles week in and week out. They took top 25 Iowa State deep into the fourth quarter last weekend in Ames. They have a talented quarterback in Carter Stanley who was able to start dissecting Iowa State’s defensive scheme, which is extremely similar to Baylor’s. Also, the game is in Lawrence where maybe a few thousand fans will show up? All of that screams let down spot for Baylor. But if I’ve learned anything it is this: trust the Baylor defense. Even if the offense comes out sputtering, which they have had a tendency to do, defenses travel and Baylor’s defense has proven that week after week. I can’t see how Kansas’s offensive line will be able to contain the three-headed monster of James Lynch, Bravvion Roy, and James Lockhart. Baylor covers the 14 point spread by a point or two.
#23 Iowa State @ Kansas State
Saturday, November 30th 6:00 PM CT, FS1
FARMAGEDDON! (Easily my favorite unofficial rivalry name in college football). #23 Iowa State (7-4, 5-3) travels to Kansas State (7-4, 4-4) for a battle of bowl positioning in the Big 12. Both teams are going to bowls, but the winner of this game might be able to slide all the way up to the Alamo Bowl if the Big 12 gets two teams into the NY6 (granted, Oklahoma State will also be in contention for that bowl, more on that in a moment). Even outside of that, this is just a great rivalry game. In fact, it is the longest never-interrupted series in college football history. KState was on a 10 game winning streak against the Cyclones before Iowa State broke that streak in incredible comeback fashion last year. Even over that 10 year stretch though, there was only one game that went blow out. Every other game ended within a possession. But the past is the past, what does this year’s matchup look like? Well ESPN’s FPI gives Iowa State a 57.6% chance of victory and the Cyclones are favored by 4.5 points. Those predictors make a lot of sense to me: Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy has over double the touchdowns KState QB Skylar Thompson has and nearly 1500 more yards. Running back Breece Hall, who really only came onto the scene in the second half of the season, has two more touchdowns and over 100 yards more than Kansas State’s leading running back, James Gilbert. The defense is a toss up with Iowa State allowing fewer yards but slightly more points than KState. Iowa State gets it done in Manhattan.
35-30 Iowa State
#7 Oklahoma @ #21 Oklahoma State
Saturday, November 20th 7:00 PM CT, FOX
BEDLAM! (I’m just going to start rivalry previews by yelling the rivalry name from now on). #7 Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1) made it out of last week’s game against TCU with a win by the skin of their teeth. They now travel to Stillwater to face #21 Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3). A couple weeks ago I would have been screaming that this was going to be a big upset spot for the Sooners. I still think it could be if Chuba Hubbard decides to go all-in on his Heisman campaign and mess up the OU defense. But, the biggest reason I think the Sooners handle this game is the loss of OSU starting quarterback Spencer Sanders. He broke his thumb a couple weeks ago against Kansas, but the Cowboys are hopeful he’ll be back for their bowl game. In his stead, Dru Brown, a graduate transfer from Hawaii, has stepped in. He did... okay against WVU. He had no turnovers and accounted for two touchdowns. So that’s nice. But remember how bad that West Virginia offense was? Yeah, they out-gained the OSU offense 333 yards to 285 in a losing effort. So that offense wasn’t great. Maybe another week of first team reps gets him more comfortable? Realistically though, I don’t see Brown leading a comeback. So if Oklahoma State were to win, they’d need jump ahead early, probably behind Hubbard’s playmaking ability. I don’t really see that with Jalen Hurts leading the Sooners on the other side. With the exception of the Baylor and Kansas State games, OU has had a tendency to jump on teams early and then let up later. That may well happen again here, but I don’t think an injured Cowboys offense does quite enough to capitalize.